M A I N   N E W S

Two more Indian students attacked in Oz
Dinesh Kumar writes from Melbourne

In a significant departure from previous attacks on Indians, two students from India aged 19 and 20 were racially abused, bashed and attacked with knives without provocation by a group of nine youths, most of them of Chinese appearance along with a few Caucasians. The incident occurred on a busy street in the Melbourne’s central business district here on Monday night. While both students are out of danger, the 18 year-old had to later undergo microsurgery for a wound on the left ear which had been cut by a weapon.

Both the unidentified Indian students were punched, pushed to the ground and repeatedly kicked near the Melbourne Central train station at 10.20 pm, which by the city standards is not very late. The posh train station with its many food courts, pubs and a cinema complex is located opposite both the State Library and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), where many Indian students are enrolled, and is also within walking distance from the University of Melbourne.

The bashings was followed by two ironies on Tuesday, which was Australia Day. One, a public protest by the nephew of no other than Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd against racist attacks against Indians, and second, the fact that hundreds of Indians were among over 16,700 people from 130 different countries who renounced their Indian passport to formally turn Australian citizens at 350 ceremonies held across the country.

The incidents occurred amid reports that a dossier of 18 high profile attacks in the state of Victoria provided by the Australian authorities to India reveal that nearly half the attackers arrested between March 2009 and January 5 this year are juvenile -- under 18 years of age. The dossier reveals that 53 people have been arrested in connection with 13 of the 18 listed cases. While three cases are still unsolved, two people were run over by train in the remaining two cases, suggesting there was no foul play.

Concern over the growing incidence of street violence, attacks on taxi drivers, robberies and other attacks, which have been affecting Indians, many of them students, has been reflected in a recent statewide survey in which 75 per cent of the over 5,000 respondents interviewed say there was a need to “win back the streets from drunken louts” and also a need for installing more CCTVs. Also, 64 per cent of the respondents felt that there were too many licensed premises that serve drinks which have contributed to the deteriorating situation in the survey commissioned by the Herald Sun newspaper and conducted over December and January by Galaxy Research, an independent market research company.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Rudd’s nephew Van Thanh Rudd was fined $234 for “offensive behaviour” after he and his friend, Sam King, turned up at the Rod Laver stadium just before the start of the Australian Tennis Open quarter final match wearing a Ku Klux Klan outfit and carrying placards that read “No racist attacks on Indians” and “Let the refugees in”. Van said the Australian government was refusing to acknowledge that attacks on Indians were racist and that its policy of locking asylum seekers, especially Sri Lankan Tamils, was wrong.

Van, who’s mother is of Vietnamese origin and father Malcolm is Kevin Rudd’s brother, was removed from the tennis stadium premises and taken to a police station where he was fined and later released.



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